Housing Assistance in Hawaii

Former foster youth may access Section 8 vouchers via the Step Up program on Oahu.  Hale Kipa Case Managers can help.  Youth with Individual Development Accounts from the Hawaii Youth Opportunity Initiative can also access up to $1,000 per year in matched funds for housing if they can save up half of what they need for a housing deposit or first month’s rent.

The following is a press release about another program that can help Hawaii residents avoid homelessness by providing a low interest loan to cover costs of moving into new housing.

On Saturday, July 1st, a Hawaii-based nonprofit lending institution launched the Hawaii Community Lending Initiative to bring small dollar loans to Hawaii families as a tool for fighting homelessness.  The Initiative was announced by Hawaii Community Lending (HCL), a US Department of the Treasury certified community development financial institution, in response to Hawaii’s affordable housing crisis and to address a homeless rate that remains the highest per capita of any state in the nation. Since its founding in November 2014, HCL has assisted 184 borrowers build and repair credit, reduce debt, and secure or sustain housing.

“Access to capital is key to solving our housing crisis,” said HCL Executive Director, Jeff Gilbreath, citing that Hawaii workers have the lowest annual average pay rates in the nation, yet face some of the highest housing costs[1]. “Many of us in Hawaii are one paycheck away from living on the beach or one deposit away from obtaining a rental. Our goal is to be a resource for local families to weather a financial storm, so they can secure and sustain housing.”

The Hawaii Community Lending Initiative is a partnership between the institution’s parent corporation, Hawaiian Community Assets, and St. Louis-based nonprofit, Justine Petersen. Through the Initiative, Hawaii Community Lending will provide Hawaii residents across the state with up to $5,000 to pay off payday loans, collections, high-cost credit, and for making emergency housing payments. The fixed-rate loans will be capped at an 8% annual percentage rate (APR).
According to Gilbreath, most Hawaii residents experiencing or at-risk of homelessness are unable to credit qualify for loans at local banks or credit unions when they face a financial emergency, forcing them to turn to payday loans which carry an average annual percentage rate of 459%.

“When our families borrow their next paycheck from payday lenders or get stuck in loans or credit cards at 29 or 30% APR, they watch their already limited financial resources squandered on interest,” continued Gilbreath. “As family, friends, and neighbors we have a moral obligation to ensure loans are available to our local families at affordable rates and at the same time, provide the education necessary to set them up for long-term financial success.”

All Hawaii Community Lending borrowers will be provided one-on-one credit counseling as part of their loan application process. Interest and fees earned from the loans will go to support the delivery of free financial education and housing counseling through Hawaiian Community Assets.

Hawaii residents interested in applying for a small dollar loans or to find out more information are encouraged to call Hawaii Community Lending at (toll-free) 1.866.824.0448. 


Hawaii Community Lending is a nonprofit, US Department of the Treasury certified community development financial institution with a mission to increase access to credit and capital to underserved Hawaii residents and with a particular focus on Native Hawaiians. The Hawaii Community Lending Initiative is made possible in partnership with HCL parent corporation, Hawaiian Community Assets, and St. Louis-based nonprofit, Justine Petersen.